January 09, 2007
Thought I'd blog/visit the wax studio once more before moving on... wanted to point out that we see encaustic paintings all over the place now, but it's a recent phenomenon in the contemporary gallery setting. As recently as the mid 90's it was very difficult to find good reference material on encaustic painting as a fine art. The few websites I could find mostly featured slick looking color interactions that resembled greasy color smears. Jasper Johns was a role model and I read what I could find on his wax works. But mostly I learned by trial and error with materials found here and there on the Internet.
The one good reference site was R & F Paints and (I think) they still are the banner site for FAQs on the medium. However, I'm basically cheap and didn't want to sink big bucks in all their equipment and premixed wax/paints. They also sponsor workshops at their place and around the country... but I didn't bite. Sinopia was another good source of info and materials that actually had a forum going. I've no idea what their site is like today, but it was a good source of dry pigments and answers when I needed them. I got my wax from a place in San Francisco... probably lots more source sites out there now, but that's my data.
All this research really motivated me and I was anxious to give it a go. My equipment was old hotplates, cheap crockpots and found implements like cat food tins and butter knives which worked just fine... the techniques were trial and error and lead into a realm of manipulation that couldn't be reached with my other mediums. I especially enjoyed carving into the surface, filling scored lines with accent colors, scraping down to underpainting which showed up unpredictably. Couldn't do this on my canvas work.
When I had a body of work I felt pretty good about I found I had to explain to my galleries what an encaustic was. Consequently, if the gallerist didn't know much about it, potential buyers would understand even less. Most pieces eventually sold but they didn't snag the enthusiasm I'd hoped. About this time I noticed an ad in the back of ArtNews that a book was being written about encaustics and slides could be sent in and I did. Received a nice letter from Joanne Mattera wanting more info, studio pics, etc. I think my handicap was that encaustics were not my primary medium although she seemed to like the work. Whatever... mine didn't make the final cut for the book. --I really gotta get a good storyline to go with my art. No certified education, no NYC gallery, southern mommy married to the military, fercryinoutloud! How boring is that? And now slowly turning gray... geeze! ...S'okay. -- I bought her book, it's a good one, very timely, well written and featuring some really fine artists... of which I would have fit right in... but didn't.
But that's okay too... don't know if I could have sustained the momentum, what with the move to another state and all that goes on outside the norm. And lots was happening at that time... a real dip in family history. The ship has righted itself but life was a bitch (two bitches, actually) for a few years. It wasn't a good time to grab a shooting star... if indeed there was one passing by.
I still have a lot of wax and pigment taking up space, and as I mentioned... I'm very frugal.. So I feel I still have some wax works left in the ole gal. I'll think on it...